British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care as he continues to recover from the COVID-19 disease, a spokesperson said on Thursday, as the death toll recorded at British hospitals neared 8,000.
“The Prime Minister has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery,” the spokesperson said.
“He is in extremely good spirits,” the spokesperson added.
Johnson, 55, was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital on Sunday evening with a persistent high temperature, cough and was rushed to intensive care on Monday where he has since spent three nights receiving treatment.
Earlier on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been deputising for the prime minister during key meetings, said Johnson was “making positive steps forward.”
Raab told Britons it was too early to ease restrictions on public activity imposed March 23 to try to slow the spread of the virus.
The original restrictions were for three weeks, a period that ends Monday. But after chairing a meeting of the government’s crisis committee, COBRA, Raab said no decision on lifting the government’s stay-home order and business closures would be made “until evidence clearly shows that we’ve moved beyond the peak” of the outbreak.
Raab said “we’re starting to see the impact of the sacrifices we’ve all made, but the deaths are still rising and we haven’t yet reached the peak of the virus.”
WATCH LIVE: #coronavirus press conference (9 April 2020)
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) April 9, 2020
UK reports 881 new deaths
Almost 8,000 people with the coronavirus have died in British hospitals, according to government figures. While the number of new confirmed cases has begun to plateau, deaths have neared the peaks seen in Italy and Spain, the two countries with the greatest number of fatalities.
On Thursday, the UK reported 881 new deaths, down from the 938 recorded the day before. Italy recorded a high of 969 deaths on March 27 and Spain 950 deaths on April 2.
The figures may not be directly comparable, however. Not all the UK deaths reported each day occurred in the preceding 24 hours, and the total only includes deaths in hospitals.
UK officials have suggested restrictions could be tightened if people flock to parks and outdoor spaces over what is forecast to be a warm, sunny Easter weekend. Currently,most parks remain open, and people are allowed to go outside for essential work. shopping and exercise.
Johnson’s government was slower than those in some European countries to impose restrictions on daily life in response to the pandemic, leading his critics to accuse him of complacency.
Britain also had one of the lowest numbers of hospital beds per capita in Western Europe before the pandemic, with only about 5,000 intensive-care beds nationwide.
That number has been increased vastly in the past few weeks, both by converting other areas of hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients and by building temporary facilities, including a 4,000-bed hospital at London’s Excel conference centre.